The Instigator
jamccartney
Con (against)
Winning
3 Points
The Contender
Ariesz
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points

Social Security

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
jamccartney
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/2/2016 Category: Economics
Updated: 6 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 549 times Debate No: 90491
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (13)
Votes (1)

 

jamccartney

Con

This debate will be over Social Security and whether or not it is a good system that should continue to exist. I will be taking the con side, where I argue that it should not exist. My opponent will take the pro side, arguing that it is a good system and should continue to exist.

Round 1 is for acceptance only. Round 2 is for arguments only, not rebuttals. The remaining rounds are for rebuttals and counter-rebuttals.

I look forward to a productive debate.
Ariesz

Pro

Accepted.
Debate Round No. 1
jamccartney

Con

Introduction

I would like to begin by thanking Ariesz for accepting this debate on Social Security. I will begin my arguments now.

Arguments

I will separate my arguments into two parts: Criticisms and Alternatives.


Criticisms

First, Social Security discriminates against the poor and the middle class. Workers are required to pay 1.45% of their wages towards the Social Security fund when wages are below the wage base. As of 2016, the Social Security Wage Base is $118,500. As a result, those with a higher income pay a lower percentage of what they make, and there is no tax on unearned income. According to the Congressional Budget Office, benefits are about three times higher than taxes than it is for those in the top 5th. In a sense, Social Security is a regressive tax.

Survivor benefits actually accelerate the pre-existing issues because they are denied to single individuals, including widows married for fewer than 9 months, divorced widows married fewer than 10 years, and same-sex couples, unless they are legally married.

For unmarried individuals and minorities tend to be less wealthy, the system is less beneficial to them than it is for those who hold more wealth.

The second issue is that Social Security, like all other forms of welfare, is essentially a Ponzi Scheme. While it is a separate tax in a paycheck stub, the money you pay in taxes toward Social Security is not treated as a separate tax; rather, the money you pay is included in regular tax revenue by the IRS. That money is later used to pay for the benefits to those who are retired today. When a payer retires, they will rely on the next generation of workers to pay the taxes that will finance their benefits. This is how a Ponzi Scheme works: it “generates returns for older investors by acquiring new investors. This scam actually yields the promised returns to earlier investors, as long as there are more new investors. These schemes usually collapse on themselves when the new investments stop.”

The 2011 annual report by the Social Security Board of Trustees shows that in 2010, 54 million people were receiving benefits, while 157 million people were paying it. Out of those who were receiving said benefits, 44 million were receiving retirement benefits and 10 million were receiving disability benefits. In 2011, there will be 56 million people receiving Social Security benefits and 158 million workers paying for it. In 2010, total income was $781.1 billion and federal expenses were $712.5 billion. That is an increase in federal tax assets of $68.6 billion. Assets in 2010 were $2.6 trillion, an amount that is expected (although without 100% certainty) to be adequate to cover the next 10 years of Social Security benefits. In 2023, total income and interest earned on assets are projected to no longer cover the expenditures required to pay for Social Security. Natural shifts in the demographics put a strain on the system. “[T]he ratio of potential retirees to workers will be 37% — there will be less than three potential income earners for every retiree in the population. … In 2023, total income and interest earned on assets are projected to no longer cover expenditures for Social Security. The trust fund would then be exhausted by 2036 without legislative action.”


Alternatives

There are many alternatives to the system of Social Security. For example, a private pension plan. A pension plan is similar to Social Security but is also different. When one opens a private pension, they pay money into it and it accumulates into reserves. Those reserves are eventually paid back to the individual in full. Essentially, they cannot touch that money until they need it.

Social Security, on the other hand, is not even a fund. One pays into it when they start their first job, and they continue to pay it. Once they reach the cap and once they reach the retirement age, they are paid money each month by the government, though it is not from a fund. It is just cash. The former system works better and is a fairer system because it does not hand out money and does not require new payer to pay for old payers like a Ponzi Scheme does.

Besides that, there is also money saving. It is obvious that pension plans are already sufficient, so even if one did not use a pension plan, there are savings accounts. One must choose not to touch that money, and if they touch it for unnecessary purchases, it is their own fault.

In addition, individuals are presented with a multitude of private investment opportunities, which allow them to not only save their money, but to accumulate interest on the money that they do not touch and then make more of it.


Conclusion

In conclusion, I believe I have provided sufficient evidence that a) Social Security is a poor system, and b) It can be replaced by other means to create a far superior system of retirement savings and financial security.


Sources

[1] Social Security Administration, “Contribution And Benefit Base,” last modified 2016, https://www.ssa.gov....
[2] Congressional Budget Office, “Is Social Security Progressive?” Economic Budget and Issue Brief, https://www.cbo.gov....
[3] http://www.investopedia.com...
[4] https://s044a90.ssa.gov...
[5] https://s044a90.ssa.gov...
[6] Brooke Oberwetter, “Social Security: Bad for the Democrats,” last modified June 13, 2005, http://reason.com....
[7] John Wihbey, “2011 annual report by the Social Security Board of Trustees,” last modified June 9, 2011, http://journalistsresource.org....
[8] Securities Exchange Commission, “Government-Business Forum on Small Business Capital Formation,” http://www.sec.gov....
[9] Geithner, Timothy, F.; et al., “2011 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Federal and Old Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds,” US Government.

*For the most part, I am citing my sources according to the Chicago Manual of Style

Ariesz

Pro

I would like to thank my opponent for starting this debate. Social Security should be talked about more, because there are so many candidates running on a platform to cut Social Security.

Social Security Benefits
1. There are many ways a married couple can decide to take their Social Security benefits, according to Alicia Munnell, director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. You can't ask Social Security to list them all, so what's the right choice? Munnell says it's hard to beat waiting until you're 70 to begin benefits because the monthly payment is 76 percent higher than it would be if you had started to take benefits at 62 and 32 percent higher than it would be if you claimed at age 66.
2. Doug Carey, who founded the financial planning software firm WealthTrace, says Social Security doesn't see itself as an oddsmaker, but it does require you to bet on your longevity. For example, the break-even point for a person who earned the inflation-adjusted equivalent of $70,000 per year for 35 years is about age 80. If this person waits until 70 to claim Social Security and lives until at least age 90, he'll accumulate almost $162,000 more in benefits than he would if he had claimed at 62. But there's a possibility of losing the bet and getting nothing.

3. If you make it for 10 years, you can collect a Social Security benefit based on up to half of your ex's earnings or on the basis of your own earnings -- whichever is higher.

4. In other words, a widow can begin drawing a survivors benefit on her late husband's Social Security when she is as young as 60, but only at a reduced rate. Then she can choose to leave her own Social Security alone, allowing it to grow in value until her full retirement age -- or even age 70. This works for widowers, too.

------------------------------------
I have provided the benefits of Social Security. Now, I will attack the pension plan that my opponent proposed. This is an interview that gives us an insight on the private pension plan model.
SIEGEL: Why, why should that be? What's changed for multi-employer plans and why would they now be more likely to be at risk?

ZARROLI: Well, a lot of them are not at risk and, in fact, most of them are doing OK. But there are some that have really stumbled for various complex reasons. Two of the biggest that are in trouble right now are the Teamsters' Central States plan and the United Mine Workers of America Health and Retirement Fund. And part of the problem is that, you know, a union like the Teamsters is aging. There are too many retired workers and there aren't enough active members paying into the fun, but there've also been a lot of policy changes over the years that have made a difference. For instance, employers who were part of these big multi-employer plans have been allowed to extricate themselves from the plan by paying a fee. You know, and as more employers leave the plans then the financial condition of these plans just gets weaker and weaker and that means other employers are reluctant to join because they don't want to take on someone else's problems.

SIEGEL: Well, is Congress doing something about these plans and does anyone have any ideas about how to fix them?

ZARROLI: Well, Congress is under a lot of pressure right now to do something and, of course, there's some disagreement about what to do. The National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans, which represents the trustees of some of these plans, wants to see some big changes in the laws governing pensions. One of the things they want to do is give pension plans that are in really bad shape the ability to renegotiate cuts and retirement payments for workers. You know, as you might imagine unpopular with some of the groups that advocate for retired workers, like the Pension Rights Center, they say, you know, the deficit problem is real but it's being exaggerated. They say cutting pensions should be off the table completely. And then the pension plans come back and say, you know, if you let these plans go bankrupt then retirees will really suffer because their benefits will get cut even more. So there's a lot of disagreement right now about what to do.
1 Million American Pension Plans Could Be Insolvent In 10 Years
I don't call that stability. Social Security offers more stability, while American Pension Plans are instable, and are likely to be insolvent in the coming years.

http://www.bankrate.com...
http://www.npr.org...
Debate Round No. 2
jamccartney

Con

Introduction

I would like to begin by thanking my opponent for posting his arguments. This is the rebuttal round, and I will give them now.


Rebuttals

My opponent begins by listing the benefits of Social Security. The first benefit he lists is not actually a benefit, just a difference in payments from when you are 62 compared to when you are 70. The second benefit expands on this.

The third benefit is that “[i]f you make it for 10 years, you can collect a Social Security benefit based on up to half of your ex's earnings or on the basis of your own earnings -- whichever is higher.” This is indeed a benefit. But a benefit does not mean anything when it will cease to exist by 2036. As I stated in my round 2 arguments, Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme, and the federal funds will run out. When this happens, everyone receiving benefits will no longer be receiving them because there will not be enough to give.

My opponent’s fourth benefit is that “a widow can begin drawing a survivors benefit on her late husband's Social Security when she is as young as 60, but only at a reduced rate. Then she can choose to leave her own Social Security alone, allowing it to grow in value until her full retirement age -- or even age 70.” Again, this is a benefit that will cease to exist when the fund runs out.

Furthermore, there are solutions that help people save for retirement other than Social Security, such as s savings account, private pension plans, etc. One can also invest in other things, like stocks or bonds.


Moving on, my opponent seems to be refuting a point I made, though it was the round specifically for arguments and not rebuttals. Be that as it may, I will refute his points. My opponent quotes a section of an NPR interview that talks about how “pension plans could be insolvent in 10 years.” Allow me to elaborate the truths and falsehoods of this.

A private pension is a system in which individuals contribute part of their earnings, usually into saving schemes or mutual funds. Upon retirement, these pension plans will pay this money back to them each month, along with any interest it has accumulated. The NPR interview says that the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation may be insolvent, not pension plans themselves. You see, State Pensions are backed by tax dollars that may not always be there. Private pension plans are backed by cash and assets that will always exist (excluding inflationary problems and unless said asset is a stock or a bond that loses its value). What Jim Zarroli is saying is that the PBGC may not always have the money to make sure “that workers are going to get the pension benefits they're promised if, you know, if, for instance, their company goes bankrupt.”

The problem with a plan being insolvent in 10 years is, in fact, the exact same issue with Social Security. As I stated in round 2, “In 2023, total income and interest earned on assets are projected to no longer cover the expenditures required to pay for Social Security. … The trust fund would then be exhausted by 2036 without legislative action.” Social Security will cease to exist eventually as well, while this problem does not exist in private pensions.



Conclusion

In conclusion, I believe I have sufficiently refuted my opponent’s arguments. I look forward to his rebuttals.


Ariesz

Pro

I would like to thank my opponent again for responding. This is the rebuttal round, and I will give them now.

Rebuttals:
"First, Social Security discriminates against the poor and the middle class. Workers are required to pay 1.45% of their wages towards the Social Security fund when wages are below the wage base. As of 2016, the Social Security Wage Base is $118,500."
Social Security requires taxes. Workers are going to pay taxes. I don't see a problem with the taxes, because it does have benefits for the elderly. It allows the elderly to live a stable life, and enjoy the rest of their years.

Ponzi Scheme-How is it a Ponzi Scheme? Young investors will also acquire these benefits once they become old. The system will never collapse. The only way it will collapse is if American wealth starts to deter.

"54 million people were receiving benefits, while 157 million people were paying it."
-Nine out of ten individuals age 65 and older receive Social Security benefits.
-Social Security benefits represent about 39% of the income of the elderly.
-Among elderly Social Security beneficiaries, 53% of married couples and 74% of unmarried persons receive 50% or more of their income from Social Security.
-Among elderly Social Security beneficiaries, 22% of married couples and about 47% of unmarried persons rely on Social Security for 90% or more of their income.
If my opponent cuts social security, than 47% of unmarried persons will have a cut of 90% of their income.
----------------------------------------------------------------
I will defend my attacks on the pension plan in the next round.
Debate Round No. 3
jamccartney

Con

Introduction

I would like to begin by thanking my opponent for providing his rebuttals. This round is for counter-rebuttals.

Rebuttals

My opponent starts by talking about my point about discrimination against the poor and middle class. He says, "Social Security requires taxes. Workers are going to pay taxes. I don't see a problem with the taxes, because it does have benefits for the elderly. It allows the elderly to live a stable life, and enjoy the rest of their years." It is true that it requires taxes and that workers are going to pay taxes. This is a fact. When I said that it discriminates, it is not because taxes themselves exist, but because they pay 1.45% of their income if their income is below the tax base of $118,500. Hence, poor and middle class individuals are hurt but those with more money are not.

Next, my opponent asks how it is a Ponzi Scheme. Let me again define a Ponzi Scheme: According to Investopedia, "The Ponzi scheme generates returns for older investors by acquiring new investors. This scam actually yields the promised returns to earlier investors, as long as there are more new investors. These schemes usually collapse on themselves when the new investments stop." This is precicely how Social Security works. Old investors are paid by having new investors; similarly, one generation is paid for by the next generation. Like a Ponzi Scheme, it will eventually run out of new payers because of population change. As I said in round 2, in 2011, 54 million people received benefits and 157 million people were paying. The next year, 56 million people were receiving and 158 million people were paying. As you can see, the gap is closing. By 2023, there will not be enough people paying to cover the cost needed. This is how it is a Ponzi Scheme.

After this, my opponent states some statistics about Social Security and then makes the point that if Social Security is cut, "47% of unmarried persons will have a cut of 90% of their income." This is a fair point, but he does not take into account that this will happen naturally and will affect everyone on Social Security by 2036, according to the Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Federal and Old Age Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds. Now, I would not advocate for the cutting of Social Security for those who based their retirement planning on it, but I would certainly advocate for the cutting of it for those not yet on it. Why? Because it will cease to exist within the next few decades and pays people using the money from the brow of hardworking Americans.

My opponent gives no more rebuttals, so I must stop here.


Conclusion

In conclusion, I believe I have sufficiently refuted my opponent's rebuttals.

Sources

[1] https://www.ssa.gov...;
[2] http://www.investopedia.com...;
[3] http://journalistsresource.org...;
Ariesz

Pro

First, I would like to thank my opponent for creating this debate. I have enjoyed having this debate, and it has proved to be very stimulating.

Defense:
" is true that it requires taxes and that workers are going to pay taxes. This is a fact. When I said that it discriminates, it is not because taxes themselves exist, but because they pay 1.45% of their income if their income is below the tax base of $118,500. Hence, poor and middle class individuals are hurt but those with more money are not
You never explain how they are hurt. There does need to be reform in the system. Bernie Sanders has offered to tax the wealthy in order to save social security.
http://thehill.com...
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"This is precicely how Social Security works. Old investors are paid by having new investors; similarly, one generation is paid for by the next generation. Like a Ponzi Scheme, it will eventually run out of new payers because of population change. As I said in round 2, in 2011, 54 million people received benefits and 157 million people were paying."
Again, my attack will still stay on this argument. The young investors start gaining money in social security when they become older.
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After this, my opponent states some statistics about Social Security and then makes the point that if Social Security is cut, "47% of unmarried persons will have a cut of 90% of their income." This is a fair point, but he does not take into account that this will happen naturally and will affect everyone on Social Security by 2036,
My opponent concedes to this claim. There needs to be some simple reform in the social security system, but it does mean that the whole system should be deleted. A lot of old people depend on social security still.
Debate Round No. 4
13 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by whiteflame 6 months ago
whiteflame
*******************************************************************
>Reported vote: Danielle// Mod action: Removed<

6 points to Con (S&G, Arguments, Sources). Reasons for voting decision: RFD in Comments Section

[*Reason for removal*] While arguments are more than sufficiently explained, the other two point allocations are not sufficient. Sources require more than a numerical comparison " it should be clear how their quality contributed to the debate, and not just how they were used. S&G is also insufficiently explained, as this point can only be awarded when one side's argument is difficult to read. Perhaps poor organization contributed to this perception, but it must be clearly stated.
************************************************************************
Posted by Blade-of-Truth 6 months ago
Blade-of-Truth
RFD

Con starts by introducing two arguments: 1) Criticisms, and 2) Alternatives. In the first, he argues that SS discriminates against the poor and middle class, that it is essentially a Ponzi Scheme which has the potential to collapse, and that the trust fund would be exhausted by 2036 should no legislative action be taken. In the latter, he presents alternatives such as a private pension plan and shows that it"s more ideal based on the grounds that it is a fairer system that wouldn"t require the Ponzi Scheme methods. He also introduces savings accounts as an alternative, as well as the endless private investment opportunities available which would additionally allow for an interest raised return on their investments.

Pro starts by listing the benefits of SS. All four points tie into one general claim: the longer you wait before claiming - the more money you"ll receive. Pro then also argues against the alternatives listed by Con but rather than going against each alternative individually just makes the overarching claim that SS is more stable than any of the alternatives.
Posted by Blade-of-Truth 6 months ago
Blade-of-Truth
Con begins the 2nd round with rebuttals. His first shows how Pro"s benefit #1 isn"t a benefit at all but rather just a list of the difference in payments received for different ages, and applies this fault to benefit #2 as well. Con negates Pro"s 3rd benefit by showing how it will cease to be beneficial if the program stops by 2036, this is also applied to Pro"s 4th benefit. Con then points out how Pro presented a rebuttal in his previous round which goes against the round structure, but continues nonetheless in refuting them. Con tackles Pro"s rebuttal by showing that the interview only touches on one corporation rather than every pension plan out there.

Pro begins his rebuttal round by challenging Con"s point of SS = Ponzi scheme. His main rebuttal being that there will always be new payers into this program, thus is won"t collapse. He then tackles Con"s point regarding the difference in the amount of people receiving the benefits compared to the amount of people paying into the system. He concludes by saying he will defend his own arguments in the next round.
Posted by Blade-of-Truth 6 months ago
Blade-of-Truth
In the final round, Con negates Pro"s rebuttal against discrimination by clarifying that it isn"t discriminating because of the taxes themselves, but because of the amount of the tax in relation to lower and middle class incomes. Con then re-establishes why SS is a Ponzi scheme via definition and how it will fall on itself based on the amount of people paying in vs. receiving the benefits. Con then acknowledges the final rebuttal given by Pro regarding unmarried people losing a majority of their income should SS be cut, but also points out that this is irrelevant if the system inevitably collapses in 2036.

Pro starts his round by claiming that Con never explained how the payers are hurt by paying 1.45% taxes, but Pro does introduce how this is harmful in his first round. Pro then refuses to expand on his rebuttal against the Ponzi scheme point raised by Con, claiming that the young investors will gain money from the system when they are older. Pro then concludes by saying that Con concedes that unmarried people will face a significant drop should the SS be cut.

----

As a judge, I award the win to Con. Pro seemed to either miss a fair amount of Con"s points, or simply dropped them. This is evident with Con"s entire line of argumentation regarding how the SS will fall onto itself by 2036, how the SS is essentially a Ponzi scheme, and how there are more ideal alternatives that exist " all of which were left standing by Pro. On the flip side, Con effectively negated each and every point raised by Pro, with only one minor concession regarding the fact that people will lose a source of income should the program end, but again, Con pointed to the fact that SS will cease to be regardless by 2036 " a point Pro never refuted.
Posted by tejretics 6 months ago
tejretics
Danielle, I'd recommend removing the S/G point - I don't think it meets the sufficiency standard.
Posted by Danielle 6 months ago
Danielle
For some reason this debate started off strong and then developed into just a few muddled arguments. I'll highlight the ones that made it to the end, assuming these are the ones the debaters cared to highlight. (1) Con explains that the rich can afford the SS tax, but the poor and middle class pay a disproportionately higher percentage of their income. Pro waited until the final round to suggest reforming the current rates so the rich pay more, and Con did not have the opportunity to respond. (2) Con claims that SS is a ponzi scheme. Pro responded that young investors start gaining money in SS when they become older. Con explained that SS is a ponzi scheme because eventually there will not be enough young investors to support the older generation. Whether or not this is true, Pro did not refute this effectively and the point goes to Con. (3) Pro pointed out that cutting SS would affect the income of unmarried persons significantly. Con replied that he would advocate dismantling SS for the future and not the previous generation, which Pro did not respond to. Thus Con has won this point as well. Overall Con won 2-3 points. I gave him points for S/G because he had better organization as well. Con also had 12 sources that effectively strengthened his argument, vs. Pro's 2 sources that he used mostly to copy and paste. This is questionable conduct, but I held off on awarding conduct points.
Posted by jamccartney 7 months ago
jamccartney
And "Communist China" is a general statement for the country that proclaims to be Communist but is actually socialist.
Posted by jamccartney 7 months ago
jamccartney
The Soviet Union was not communist, and neither is China.
Posted by WilliamsP 7 months ago
WilliamsP
Check you "BIG Issues" comments.
Posted by jamccartney 7 months ago
jamccartney
No one said they were communist.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Blade-of-Truth 6 months ago
Blade-of-Truth
jamccartneyArieszTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in Comment Section